Louise Lecavalier and Frédéric Tavernini soared in So Blue.
LUMINATO FESTIVAL June 6-15. luminatofestival.com.
Although an unscientific poll of my non-arts-worker friends revealed that many still don't know what the Luminato Festival is, this year's edition - the eighth - was pretty decent. Let's hope rumours of its funding crisis are greatly exaggerated.
I saw seven shows classified as theatre, dance or performance, and one late-night concert by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, whose rendition under Peter Oundjian of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony was riveting.
Among the highlights for me were Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch's Kontakthof, one of the company's signature works, which even 35 years after its premiere stands as an incisive, funny and very moving look at the struggle between the sexes.
Wim Wenders's decision to film his homage/documentary about Bausch in 3D was astute. This company, which ranges widely in age, race and nationality, must be seen live to be appreciated. Hope we don't have to wait another three decades for the troupe's unique brand of dance theatre to return.
Mammalian Diving Reflex's All The Sex I've Ever Had: International Edition wasn't exactly theatre, but it was thrilling and absorbing to watch and take part in.
Seven seniors - representing Canada, Scotland, the Czech Republic, Germany, the U.S., Singapore and Switzerland - recounted their sexual history, from their first feelings of curiosity and experimentation (a good reminder that children are sexual beings) to adolescent crushes, adult adventures and misadventures and everything in between.
Directed by Darren O'Donnell and Konstantin Bock, the show is gloriously diverse and inclusive - so much so, in fact, that certain topics were opened up to the audience, who got to share their own experiences about (for instance) public sex or thieving lovers.
The finale was heartfelt, and you got to talk to performers afterwards and look at mementoes from their ordinary but full lives.
Louise Lecavalier's So Blue was a huge hit. The former La La La Human Steps dancer is a virtual whirling dervish on the stage. But the more contemplative moments didn't work for me, and the piece could have used a more satisfying structure.
And I've got mixed feelings about New Zealand director Lemi Ponifasio's Stones In Her Mouth, which featured 10 Maori women chanting, singing and flinging around poi, and Mariano Pensotti's Cineastas, a piece combining the lives and creations of four Buenos Aires filmmakers.
Stones was certainly hypnotic and eerily atmospheric, but also inscrutable, especially without translated surtitles. Cineastas was brilliantly executed, but it took a lot of work for minimal payoff, the connections between life and art feeling forced.
Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno was an amusing and informative look at the sex lives of animals and insects, but her glamour and celebrity were a big part of the promotional package.
Speaking of celebrity packages, in If I Loved You, Rufus Wainwright invited famous guy pals to sing Broadway love songs normally done by women or between men and women.
Woefully under-rehearsed, the event was a mixed bag. Late-addition Brent Carver was predictably transcendent, Josh Groban belted with panache, and Steven Page proved he can stylishly deliver a show tune, but a few others looked like they'd drunkenly stumbled in for karaoke night.